For many years now I have believed that God sends down guardian angels in undercover form, to Earth to help protect & save both human & animal lives here.
This past summer I & my absolutely beloved 11 1/2 yr old female Sulfur Crested Cockatoo Fritzie found one of those ''Earth Angels'', namely Lisa Umstead. To those who know of Fritzie's ''story'', I apologize for repeating it herein, for the benefit of those who heretofore don't know of it.
Fritzie, the Too, had a past history (with her two prior co-owners, one of whom was an avian vet who retired in the Fall of 2000) of self abusive behaviors when either left alone in a room, or placed adjacent to other birds/parrots that she disliked, or otherwise did not get along with. These hideous behaviors included feather picking/chewing/plucking, skin picking, obsessive tics when nervous, failure to eat/drink when troubled/upset & phobias of being touched/held & separation anxiety.
She also had great difficulty getting along socially with other parrots/birds.
In May 2001, she was ''stolen'' from me & I recovered her in July 2001. At the time I recovered her, mediocre care by a Valley Stream veterinarian hired by the 'thieves'' caused her to lose over half of her body weight & a large number of feathers as well as the fact that he kept her isolated(allegedly in a ''safe house'') & refused to allow her to eat the special expensive food(Nutriberries) she needed. He had also refused to allow her to see me or to even hear me. After a protracted legal court battle, I prevailed in getting her back.
The two Moluccan Toos (that I used to have) did not work out for me or for Fritzie. Thus Fritzie ended up all alone with me for a few days in Mid July 2001.
The nightmare began, as Fritzie regressed back to her self destructive/abusive past behaviors. The worst of those behaviors was when after refusing food/water for a few days ,she gathered up her wooden toys on Sunday, July 22,2001 ,broke them into splinters, opened her wings(span) wide,& used the splinters to frantically scratch/cut herself over & over. Miraculously & mercifully she did not end up hemorrhaging. Avian vets that I contacted felt that the only remedy was psychotropic medications (i.e. haloperidol, aka Haldol)
When I saw the ''manic'' agitation filled splinter self-abuse take place, I was hysterically frantic & speedily drove over to Lisa & Dennis's home. I was desperate for an immediate ''cure'' that would help Fritzie heal her psychic pain. I begged & pleaded her to immediately drop everything she was doing as my beloved Fritzie was in danger of losing her life/health & her well being. Lisa stopped/dropped whatever she was doing to immediately try to help Fritzie, without charging me one cent. In under a half hour, Lisa metamorphosized .into an avian betrothal matchmaker. She found Fritzie a potential feathered husband, a 13 yr old male Orange Wing Amazon named Pookie (after Pokemon cards by prior owner),a resident of PFC's Parrot Haven run by Lisa & Dennis.
Neither Lisa nor I were sure how Fritzie would respond to this new feathered husband especially as Fritzie & Pookie were Cockatoo & Amazon respectively. In other words, a mixed (species) marriage. And since Fritzie has had a lengthy past history of rejecting/spurning a number of would be suitors & since Fritzie & Pookie were diametric polar opposites in terms of personality, For instance, Fritzie is a chatterbox extraverted talker, flirtatious, very flamboyant, fun loving & outgoing & loves to be tickled/caressed.
Pookie on the other hand is a very quiet reserved introverted shy & serious guy .who dislikes being touched by humans. However, as the clich' goes, opposites attract. Although Lisa loved Pookie very dearly, Lisa gently put Pookie in a travel carrier, & lovingly kissed him goodbye .I thanked Lisa profusely,(She once again refused to take one cent from me although an Amazon easily retails $1000-$1500 on average here on LI) then Pookie & I left, & I began driving home, with Pookie (in his carrier) beside me. As I drove I tried not to get my hopes up too high that this proposed mixed marriage would succeed, given the ''risks'' I noted above. Once home, I put Pookie in a cage whose sidewalls were up against a wall of Fritzie's cage. As the clich' goes, it was ''Love at first sight''. Fritzie almost immediately ceased her irrational self-abusive/destructive behavior and bonded fantastically with him. They continue to adore each other & play 'footsies'' quite hilariously through their cage bars. Fritzie healed both physically as well as emotionally.
A most unusual test of the intensity of their bonding came about recently. I experimentally tried to substitute a male sulfur crested cockatoo (the same species as Fritzie) named Fiji for Pookie and to my horror she began to resume her self abusive/destructive behaviors. When I returned Pookie to Fritzie ,those behaviors ceased, When I re-tried the cockatoo Fiji as a substitute for Pookie, the horrible behaviors recur & when I return Pookie to Fritzie ,she immediately ceases hurting herself ( I should add here that as long as Fritzie/Pookie are together, they let the male sulfur crest cockatoo, Fiji live harmoniously near them) The vast majority of the prolific quantity/variety of avian literature perpetuates the myth that Toos only want to bond with Toos & hum caretakers.
Very, very little is written on love between an Amazon & a cockatoo. I wonder how many other cockatoos are suffering like Fritzie did & their human owners did not try matchmaking them with an Amazon. I am sure that there are plenty of cockatoos have zero interest in amazons & vice versa. However I am also surre that there are cockatoos that that could be healing physically/emotionally by virtue of an Amazon for a spouse. If Lisa did not '''think out of the box'' as the corporate management lingo says, Fritzie most likely could have died. Thus, it goes without saying that I count my blessings every day that Lisa literally saved Fritzie's life & thus she deserves the highest praise. Thus, in closing it is most fitting to note that the Talmud says (as quoted in the end of the 'Schindler's List' movie) something to the effect that '' to save one life is like saving an entire world''.
Marsha Lampert MBA MS
Editors note: I had originally promised Pookie's owner that I would keep him as a permanent Parrot Haven resident, but after Marsha was introduced to Pookies' 'Mom', she happily agreed to have Marsha adopt Pookie, and continues to remain in close contact.